Tiger, facing one last hurdle, stands just seven holes away from history

Monday, 28 Oct, 2019

And yet, it nearly could not have worked out any better.

After watching Matsuyama play his next shot from the fairway, Woods assumed the Japanese player made birdie at the par-5 closing hole and that he needed to make par at the last to win by a shot.

Japan's primary Matsuyama, within the group instantly forward, had clung doggedly to the coat-tails of Woods all through Sunday's third and fourth rounds, delayed due to Friday's washout at Accordia Golf Narashino Nation Membership.

The 43-year-old was making his first start since undergoing an arthroscopic procedure in August, the fifth time he has had surgery on his left knee, with Woods pleased with his physical improvements. "It was definitely stressful", Woods said. "I figured if I stayed where I was at, I was not going to have the lead. So he's already on to: 'How do I get to 83?'" I felt preposterous at the time for overstating a few clips where he wasn't even really playing golf, and now I feel preposterous for understating what now seems obvious.

It was Woods' first victory since claiming his 15th major title at the Masters in April.

The wet conditions meant it was deemed unsafe for spectators to be present on the grounds on Saturday but they were able to return in their droves on Sunday. Woods opened 40-1 at Caesars and closed at 30-1 when the tournament started. "I've got a 12-footer for birdie on 17 and then I'll try to make birdie or eagle at the last and finish as high up as possible". "It is a lot", Woods said of the 82 career wins. His iron game has been as good as at any time since the Masters, where he led the field in greens in regulation on his way to winning a fifth green jacket.

Gary Woodland and Sung-jae Im are the next-closest players, and they are 6 shots back of Woods.

The course took on over 8 inches of rain Friday and was in remarkably good shape when play resumed on Saturday for the second round.

Woodland shot 66 for second place at 10-under, while Keegan Bradley and local favourite Hideki Matsuyama were two shots further back in a tie for third.

When Woods knocked his sixth birdie of the round at the 13th he was five clear but he dropped a second shot at the par-five 14th when he failed to get up and down.

Like other players, Matsuyama said it felt odd playing a round in front of no spectators.

Spectators will be allowed back in on Sunday and most of the sell-out crowd of almost 20,000 will no doubt have eyes for Woods, playing in Japan for the first time since 2006. All to deal with the various aches and pains associated with his various back surgeries.

The Golf Channel is one of 95-plus live TV channels included in the main FuboTV bundle, which is largely tailored towards sports.

"Today has been a long day in the saddle, so early wake-up call tomorrow and back at it again", Woods said. Then sleep. Then getting ready all over again.

"I just told him, "You never cease to amaze me, "' said Mark Steinberg, Woods" long-time agent.